How Do I get a Domain Name?

Over the years, we see that more and more businesses are driven through an online model. From a home run sweets company to a big multinational most businesses have or wish to have a website. But to host a website you need a domain name, a host server which will host your website and a DNS entry which will make any link to redirect to your website. A domain name is as important as the WordPress theme which is to be used.

To understand this let us walk through step by step for the steps needed to setup a website.
One important point to look at is all the three things like the website, server and DNS entry can be provided by the same organization or it can be from different organizations. We will consider companies where you can avail all the three facilities as a group package or as an individual.

What is a Domain or domain name?

The first and foremost thing is to decide on a name that is marketable, brandable and very easy to remember. Once you have thought of a name then go to websites and confirm that the website has not already been taken up. If it is already taken up it is more than likely that the previous owner of the website won’t sell it to you may ask for a premium price.
If the domain is available, then we can go ahead and register the domain.
Pricing for domains is very irregular. Pricing is completely dependent on the domain name that you are looking for and the place from where you register. Things that change include the services offered by the company with whom you register.
Domain names are nothing but ip addresses assigned to your machine. An IP address is a unique identifier which recognizes your domain. Every machine which wants to connect to the internet has a unique IP address worldwide.

Why is a Domain Name Important?

Anyone can register a domain name. You do not have to be a company or an organization to do so. Even an individual can get his or her domain name. And if you have a website, it is always a good idea to register your domain name. The reasons are many. First, if you ever think of changing your web host, your domain name will move with you. This makes no difference to your customers or users.

Now, if you have a business especially, then a domain name will add credibility to it. Most people shy away from doing business with an organization that does not have its domain. Sponsors and Ads also can be got more easily with a domain name. And last but not the least, the best thing would be to get a domain name that describes your business, company product, or service. People may remember the name and come back, and it will also help in search results.

Why we need nameservers or DNS servers?

The next step is to setup a domain name server entry or also know as DNS. The DNS is nothing but a server which converts the IP addresses or unique identifiers into human readable and easy to remember domain names. Let us say you registered for a domain name as www.myfirstwebsite.com and the machine you hosted your pages on (Read further on hosting) got assigned an IP address 1.1.1.1
Whenever you type www.myfirstwebsite.com in your browser window your machine connects to the DNS server and fetches the IP address to connect to that machine and download your webpages. A little technical knowledge is necessary to understand how to create a domain name entry. Most websites will have a simple procedure to do the same.

Where your webpages are hosted?

The last but important step is to host your website pages (that were designed previously) onto a web server. The webserver is a computer with a large storage. This company from whom you buy server storage space will typically allocate your website some storage space. The cost of this space depends on the size of storage you need (dependent on your website) and the other nitty gritties like backups which need to be taken or not, maximum uptime necessary, security against hacking et al. One could of course host web pages on your own computer but then it is essential that the added services provided by the web hosting services is not available any more.

Comparative chart of Domain name registration and fees for various entities:

GoDaddy Bluehost Google domains Hosting Raja BigRock
Domain Registration fees $1.5 / month package $8.95 / month package $1 / month $4.23/month $1 / month
Webserver 30 GB 100GB No Hosting services Unlimited space 250 MB
Email Addresses 5 5 No email address service 250 5

If we look at the above table, we can see various packages available from different web hosting and domain name registration vendors. One thing to note is that Google does not offer any hosting services. But their Top of the line .com domain names are all available at a flat rate of $12 per year or that translates to $1 per month. They do not provide any web hosting space though. This works better if you are going to host your own website. Although one advantage is that they provide seamless integration with all google services like Google AdWords, Gmail, and blogger. So, if you are tied into Google then google domains is the way to go.

For other vendors, the prices shown in the above table are their lowest price plans. There are more plans available if you visit the websites of these vendors. But the plans shown above are the basic ones from the point of view of the first-time user. As your website grows, you might need more, and you can always upgrade your plans.

Things to Keep in Mind

Now that we have determined why a domain name is beneficial let’s list out a few things that need to be kept in mind before setting out on registering one.

Read the fine print before thoroughly. You don’t want to miss things in the terms like transfer-out and power of attorney. Pay for only as much as you want. Do not register for 5 years right away. Most probably, your registrar will pay the registry just for 1 year and then renew later on, which means you are giving them an interest-free loan. And what if you do not want to continue with the domain from year 2 onwards? When you register, run a check on Whois. This is a publicly accessible database, which you should have the rights to edit your records in. Also, the registrar lock should be set so that no one can transfer your domain away from you. You may need a domain-auth code for complete control. Lastly, beware of free URL forwarding, where a low-cost registration is offered, but some hidden tricks are used to make money from you, like selling pop-up/pop-under Ads on your domain.

Domain Registration Process

Now we’ll get down to the actual process on how to register a domain name. Going step by step will make the understanding much easier.

The Name

If you are starting a new website, think of more than one suitable name before doing a search for what is available. With millions of websites already out there, the chances of what you have thought about already being taken are pretty high. Try to relate your website name to your business, location, area if expertise or something like that. It is also important to use a short name that is quite easy to remember. This will help users identify more with your website.

Then you can run a search for your preferred options on sites like GoDaddy or Namecheap, besides others. But these two are pretty much the best domain name registrars out there.

Hosting Service

You need to decide upfront about hosting your website. A website is made up of many files, which need to be saved somewhere. This can be done even on your computer, which means no hosting service. Otherwise, you can store them on a web hosting service, where you will also be able to register your domain name, in most cases.

Actual Domain Registration

Now comes the main part. Once you have checked for availability, the registration process is pretty simple. You will just have to fill out the required forms. You can choose if your information can go public or needs to be kept private (this might cost a little more). All hosting services work under the ICAAN database, so it all goes into the same online box. Also keep in mind that there are other services that are provided by hosting sites, so make sure not to miss out on them.

Now, make the required payment. This is why it is important to choose a reputable hosting service because they will have all your payment information. Once registered, you can start using the hosting tools like online file manager, SSL/TLS manager, CNAME records, besides many others.

How to Register a Domain Name for Free

Make no mistake here. If you have a business or are in some organization, this is not the option for you. Free domain registrations are suitable only for small, personal websites. Such services are usually provided by companies that extend low or free web services.

Most probably, for a free domain name, you would not get a dot com address. You would have to settle for something like .lk, .cc, or the like. And then you would not be able to place Ads and do related things on your website. This is another reason why you should not go for this option if you are thinking long-term, or have a business. After all, you should be looking to build your brand then. Nevertheless, this is one way in which you can get a domain name for free.

The best option is to pay and go in for professional web hosting. You would benefit from uniqueness, reliability, search engine rankings, bandwidth, storage, besides all the much-needed support and assistance down the road.

How to Buy a Domain Name Permanently

Get this right. This is not possible. Reason being, you do not own a domain but are simply renting it. The most common way is to register a domain name for 5 years and then renew. This can be done for a 10-year period too in some cases. And do not forget about renewal after that. Otherwise, you stand to lose your complete online business.

How to Buy a Domain Name From Someone

Usually, good and interesting domain names are bought and parked. If you want a name that has already been taken but isn’t running an active website, you would need to look up who owns it, get in touch, and make an offer. But mostly those who buy domains names to resell are looking to make a big profit. In such a case, maybe you can try tweaking your domain name a little here and there, and look for something similar that is available.

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